BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Navy’s Sydney Harrington (Fairfax, Va.) and Victoria Tran (Clarksville, Md.) have been selected as the Patriot League’s nominees for the NCAA Woman-of-the-Year Award. The announcement was made today by the league office.
The Navy duo was among the eight nominees from Patriot League schools for the award. Each conference office selects up to two nominees for the national award. There were 53 nominees from Division I conferences for this year’s award. A national selection committee will determine the top 10 recipients in each NCAA division in October, then the top-three finalists in each division will be announced in November. The NCAA Woman of the Year among those nine finalists will be announced at the 2023 NCAA Convention in January.
The award program was established in 1991 and honors the academic achievements, athletics excellence, community service, and leadership of graduating female college athletes from all three divisions. To be eligible, a nominee must have competed and earned a varsity letter in an NCAA-sponsored sport and must have earned her undergraduate degree by Summer 2022.
Sydney Harrington, Women’s Swimming
Harrington, a two-time Patriot League Women’s Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year, was named the 2020 and ’22 Patriot League Women’s Swimmer of the Year and the 2019 rookie of the year in the league. At the 2022 Patriot League Championship, she led all swimmers and divers in event points with 60 after winning the 50 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 200 butterfly. She was also a part of Navy’s winning 200 and 400 freestyle and 200 and 400 medley relay teams.
The Fairfax, Va., native holds Patriot League championship meet records in the 100 and 200 butterfly. She also qualified for three NCAA Championship meets and earned Honorable Mention All-America accolades in 2021. Harrington graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in honors physics with a 3.81 cumulative GPA.
“I am so thankful for the opportunity I was given to grow as a person and a leader during my time at the Naval Academy and on the swim team.
“While at the Academy, I was given the role of squad leader, meaning I had 12 Academy students I was assigned to mentor. In this leadership position, I really learned what it means to care about my people and put their needs above my own. I loved helping them study, giving personal advice, and teaching them to navigate Navy life. I also organized events like movie nights and dinners, and we all became like family. I loved the people in my squad, and I am so grateful I had the chance to impact their lives. I hope to apply the lessons I learned as a squad leader throughout my time in the Navy and to be a leader that truly cares about every one of my people.
“I chose to participate in the honors research program offered for physics majors at the Naval Academy. I fell in love with my lab work and decided that I wanted to go into medical physics research once I was done serving in the Navy. I want to utilize my passion and skill for physics research to make a positive impact on the world. Specifically, I hope to work with heavy ion oncology treatment.
“I was chosen to attend a conference for women in physics, where I would have had the opportunity to share my research and experience with young girls interested in STEM, but it was unfortunately canceled due to COVID. However, this cause is very important to me, and I plan to continue to participate in programs created to improve diversity in STEM.
“Most importantly, I am incredibly grateful for the Navy swim team. My coaches taught me how to push through challenges and to believe in my ability to accomplish my goals. My teammates are my best friends, and we all want success for each other even more than ourselves. We cheer like crazy during swim meets and push each other to be better in and out of the pool.
“When my mom died freshman year, I received so much love and support from my teammates, and I learned how to give the same kind of support to underclassmen throughout my time on the team. I have helped my younger teammates become lane leaders, I have challenged them to push themselves harder during practice, and I have been a shoulder to cry on. I am inspired by the amazing, hardworking women on my team, and I hope I am someone they can look up to.
“I would not be the person I am today without my time as a student-athlete at the Academy, and I am beyond excited to serve my country in the world’s greatest Navy after graduating.”
Victoria Tran, Women’s Soccer
Tran is a two-time Patriot League Women’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year, three-time All-League selection, and two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American. She helped the Mids to a 2020-21 Patriot League Women’s Soccer Championship while being selected as the League’s midfielder of the year.
The Clarksville, Md., native is a four-year starter and finished her career in Annapolis with 18 points on seven goals and four assists. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in honors robotics and engineering with a cumulative GPA of 3.98. She was honored as the USNA’s Class of ’22 recipient of the Cheryl Dolyniuk Award for the top graduating female midshipmen who excelled in athletics, leadership, and academics.
“I never thought of myself as a leader growing up; I was a student and an athlete. I grew very familiar with how to balance academics with a rigorous soccer schedule, so when the time came to look at colleges, the lifestyle nuances of being a ‘student-athlete’ was a rhythm I was comfortable with. But I decided to be a student-athlete at the United States Naval Academy, and that was an entirely new battle rhythm to adjust to.
“Even in this new environment as a midshipman student-athlete, I found my athletic experience continued to teach me vital lessons. I got a new appreciation for what service is, spending free moments with my team engaging with the Annapolis community on Honor Flights, Special Olympics, Gigi’s Playhouse, and Athletes for Hope. Surrounded by driven, competitive, and unbelievably resilient teammates and female student-athletes, I found role models and inspiration to not only continually develop myself but to do so in a way that elevates others. When the COVID-19 pandemic restricted our lifestyles in unprecedented ways, I found myself investing more time and energy into my teammates, setting up small group calls and virtual social events to maintain team spirits. I am convinced those actions in the midst of COVID-19 to maintain and forge strong relationships among my team directly correlated to our success that year, culminating in our second straight Patriot League title. Meeting young players at games, engaging with the underclassmen on my team, and volunteering to coach summer soccer camps, I learned the power of my own example and voice.
“I realized the lessons I learned in the field – perseverance, cooperation, and discipline – directly applied to my academic pursuits. Spending hours in the lab for my research on robotic conformal additive manufacturing, I learned how to communicate more effectively and how to adapt to unforeseen challenges, which also aided me in the field.
“Becoming a tutor for my company and team, I enhanced my communication skills and learned how to best instruct individuals and convey problems. In my military experiences on summer training aboard an amphibious assault ship, training with Marine Corps platoons, deployed with a submarine crew, and the billets I’ve had as platoon sergeant, supply officer, and operations officer, I’ve developed my organizational skills, professional knowledge, and competency, and learned a lot about how I deal with stress. The most important lesson I learned, is that these lessons and experiences I’ve had are not separated into lessons learned in the classroom, on the field, or as a midshipman. They intertwine, reinforce and emphasize each other, and the culminating experience has developed me holistically.
“Looking back on my experience, now as an Ensign in the United States Navy, I can attest that my four years with the Severn River as the backdrop has given me the belief that I can be a leader and incite positive change. But most importantly, it has taught me to value service, whether that be to one’s family, community, or country.”